By Leslee Goodman
As the development and communication coordinator for the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group (CCLTRG), I’ve had the honor of witnessing our community come together in remarkable ways to survive, recover and rebuild from the largest wildfire in Washington state history.
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the fires and floods, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come since the anxiety and devastation of those smoke-filled days. I also hope you’ll consider giving to continue the recovery effort, by helping individuals and families recover their homes and properties.
Many organizations are working on aspects of community recovery. In the Methow, Methow Valley Long Term Recovery Organization, Room One, the Methow Conservancy, Aero Methow, TwispWorks, the Twisp and Winthrop chambers, CCAN, The Cove and other groups have played major roles. Pateros/Brewster Long Term Recovery Organization, Okanogan Community Action Council, and many faith-based groups have also been important partners. The Community Foundation of North Central Washington has supported recovery throughout the region.
Together, these groups have accomplished a tremendous amount in helping families, restoring our infrastructure and landscape, and preparing for future disasters. Many of you have given generously to help make these recovery efforts possible.
Along with these partners, CCLTRG is a countywide group whose volunteer coordination and rebuilding work has touched hundreds of families in our communities. The CCLTRG is made up of representatives from throughout the fire-affected area. From the Methow Valley, local leaders Adrianne Moore (Room One) and Amy Stork (TwispWorks) serve on the board of directors.
One of the CCLTRG’s most important projects is the rebuilding of homes for fire survivors who lack the means to rebuild on their own. Eleven homes are currently underway. The effort so far has been funded primarily by nonprofits and faith-based organizations active in disasters. No federal or state funding is available to rebuild private homes for individuals and families.
The CCLTRG has hired skilled contractors to coordinate rebuilding, but the bulk of the work is being done by hundreds of volunteers who have arrived from all over the United States and even Canada to clear ash and debris, plant trees, string fence, frame and roof houses, hang windows and doors, and more. Generous local suppliers are discounting building materials. Together, these donations add up to the most cost-effective home rebuilding effort possible.
The homes underway are located throughout the burned area. They are modest yet sturdy dwellings suitable for our climate. Once homeowners have qualified for the program under a set of criteria determined by the CCLTRG board, the order in which homes are built depends on readiness: possessing clear title to property; a building site cleared of debris and ready for new construction; Health Department approval of water and septic; a building permit; and verification of financial resources. In some cases, funding is available for a specific home in accordance with the wishes of the donating group.
Restoring housing is basic to recovery —physical, psychological, and spiritual. Individuals need to restore personal stability. Communities need people in stable housing to ensure that property taxes return to previous levels, that workers are available to our local businesses, and that our school districts have continuity.
This summer and fall, we will complete the first slate of homes and begin planning for the next phase of rebuilding 10 additional homes.
At this time there is a special opportunity to help make a secure home a reality for vulnerable families in our community. An anonymous donor has committed to match every donation made between now and July 18 — the one-year anniversary of the fire — up to $250,000.
The fires and floods affected all of us deeply. For hundreds of families, those effects were truly drastic. And for some, this devastating event left them with nowhere to live and no means to rebuild.
It is these neighbors who need us now. We hope you will be able to help these most vulnerable among us, by returning them to homes that are safe and secure.
Together, let’s demonstrate that our community is stronger than fire.
Leslee Goodman is development and communications coordinator for the Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group. To give, visit www.carltoncomplexrecovery.com/donate, or mail your check, made payable to Community Foundation of North Central Washington, our fiscal sponsor, to 9 S. Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, WA 98816, with CCLTRG on the memo line. All contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. To learn more, attend CCLTRG’s “Report to the Community” anniversary event at Twisp River Pub on Tuesday (July 14) from 5–7 p.m.; or a community barbecue and volunteer recognition ceremony in Pateros on July 17 from 2–7 p.m. at the Pateros High School gym. All volunteers are also invited to march in the Parade of Heroes in Pateros on July 18. Register at www.paterosapj.com/paradeform.